EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Joe Manchin and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are demanding that President Biden extend a pandemic emergency order blocking illegal immigrants from entering the United States.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, sent a letter to the White House with three Texas lawmakers on Tuesday imploring administration officials to not let Title 42 expire on Dec. 21.
“We have a crisis at our southern border. Never before in our nation’s history have we experienced this scope and scale of illegal border crossings, and we remain concerned that your administration has not provided sufficient support or resources to the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who are tasked with maintaining border security,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Manchin and three members of the Texas congressional delegation, including GOP Sen. John Cornyn. Also signing the letter was moderate House Democrat Henry Cuellar and GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose districts span the US-Mexico border.
BORDER OFFICIALS SEEING MASSIVE MIGRANT NUMBERS, LARGE GROUPS AHEAD OF TITLE 42’S END
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention invoked Title 42 – which allows immigration to be suspended for public health reasons – in March 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic. The order allowed immigration officials to block illegal immigrants from entering the US if they were coming from countries with high COVID-19 infection rates.
Biden kept the policy in place for most of his first year in the White House, but has sought to have it rescinded in recent months. White House officials argue that since the pandemic has receded, the emergency expulsion order is no longer needed.
Manchin and the Texas lawyers warn that ending the Title 42 policy now will cause the already burgeoning migrant crisis at the border to intensify.
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“While admittedly imperfect, termination of the CDC’s Title 42 order at this time will result in a complete loss of operational control over the southern border, a profoundly negative impact on border communities, and significant suffering and fatalities among the migrants unlawfully entering the United States ,” the lawyers wrote.
As of this month, there have been more than 500,000 migrant encounters – nearly 7,000 per day – in fiscal year 2023. Of that figure, more than 162,000 have been expelled under Title 42.
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Last month, a federal court judge blocked the White House from enforcing Title 42. The court ruled that the pandemic order violated federal laws governing the formulation of regulations and policy by federal agencies. As part of the order, the court gave the Biden administration until Dec. 21 to end the order.
The Justice Department is appealing the ruling and argues that while the White House planned to end the order, the CDC was well within its rights to issue it. Administration officials have said the CDC is working on a replacement policy for Title 42, but few expect it to be ready before the Dec. 21 deadline.
Manchin and the Texas lawyers say a legislative solution to the problem is likely the only path forward, but believe those “negotiations will take time.”
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“We are committed to enacting bipartisan legislation that will allow DHS to effectively implement policies and programs that have been revealed as critical to maintaining operational control over the southern border, and do not involve paroling large numbers of migrants into the United States to undergo months- or years-long processes,” they wrote..
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.